How Amy Purdy Knew She Would Still Snowboard After Losing Her Legs (VIDEO)

02/19/2015 11:55 am ET

When Amy Purdy was 19 years old, she lost her legs -- and quite nearly her life.

The snowboarder contracted bacterial meningitis more than 15 years ago and was given a 2 percent chance of survival by hospital doctors. She had experienced respiratory and organ failure, underwent multiple blood transfusions, had her spleen removed and lost circulation in her extremities. Though Purdy survived, doctors had to amputate both of her legs below the knee.

Purdy's rehabilitation was an incredible challenge both physically and mentally. She struggled at first to accept her new reality, but, as Purdy tells Oprah in an interview for "Super Soul Sunday," she then reached a point where she understood that acceptance was her only true option.

"That kind of prompted me to ask myself this question: 'If my life was a book and I was the author, how would I want this story to go?'" Purdy says in the above video.

Perhaps more importantly, Purdy knew how she didn't want the story to go.

"I don't want to see myself as this sad, disabled girl. I know that. I don't want other people to see me as that either," she says. "I want to see myself walking again, gracefully. And I wanted to see myself somehow sharing, somehow helping other people through this journey."

Today, Purdy is not only walking, but has also waltzed, salsaed and rumbaed as a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars," and snowboarded her way to a bronze medal in the 2014 Winter Paralympics. Snowboarding, she tells Oprah, was always a part of her plan. In fact, back when she was choosing how to rewrite her life's story, Purdy had a powerful visualization about her snowboarding future.

"I saw myself snowboarding again. I had visualized it so strongly in that moment that I didn't just see myself carving down this mountain of powder. I could feel it," she says. "I could feel the wind against my face. I could feel the beat of my racing heart. I could feel my muscles twitching as if it was happening in that very moment. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but I knew that I was going to do it."

Also in the interview: Purdy shares her mother's one rule for anyone visiting the then-19-year-old in the hospital when Purdy was fighting for her life.

"Super Soul Sunday" with Amy Purdy airs February 22 at 11 a.m. ET on OWN. You can also join the worldwide simulcast on Oprah.com/supersoulsunday or Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.

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